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Top 10 Essential Items for Your Walking Pack


Updated June 01, 2014

What should you carry with you when you walk? It depends on how far you are going and how big of a pack you want to carry, but I have a bare minimum of items I always take with me and that fit either into my pockets, into my fanny pack, or into my backpack.

1. Water Bottle

Hand Holding Water Bottle
Jupiter Images / Stockbyte / Getty Images
Unless you are taking a short walk of a half hour or less, you will want a drink of water. Include a water fountain along your route, or take it with you. I have a variety of water carrier fanny packs and hydration backpacks - a whole wardrobe to choose from depending on how far I'll be walking. It is best to strap on your water bottle rather than carrying it in your hand, as a pound of water in your hand can strain your shoulder, elbow, and wrist.
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2. Mobile Phone

iPhone 5s
Courtesy of Pricegrabber
Ah, I remember the good old days when people babbling (seemingly to themselves) on the streets were, in fact, schizophrenic. But today, they are just talking into their cell phones. I'm not a phone person, but I now carry along a cell phone to be able to report emergencies and ask my husband what he wants for dinner. Today's mobile phones have all kinds of goodies, like a digital camera so you can show people where, exactly, you are lost!
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3. Keys - and a Useful Keyring

Victorinox Climber Swiss Army Knife 640
Courtesy of Pricegrabber
This is the true essential - being able to get back into your house, office, or car when you finish walking. Lock your doors, take your keys. Give some thought to your keyring - you may want a minimal keyring to keep things light. Or you may want one with a mini LED flashlight and/or a small Swiss Army knife to have a couple more essentials at hand.
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4. ID

Wendy Bumgardner
Heaven forbid something should happen to you on your walk, but in case it does, the ambulance or police will need to know who you are. This is especially true since US hospital privacy rules have been enacted, and unless they know who you are they can't tell your loved ones you are in the hospital. You may also need photo ID to enter government buildings and historic sites. If you want to go light, use a Shoe Wallet to carry ID and money and your key - on your shoe!

5. Tissues

Coughing and Sneezing
Tetra Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Whether it's your nose dripping, your eyes watering, or no toilet paper in the restroom, you are likely to need a tissue along the walk.
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6. Money

Even on a short walk, I don't like going out without a few dollars on me. You just never know when you'll need to use a pay phone, or buy a latte, or run into a rummage sale with just the right thing you've always been looking for. Again, a shoe wallet can be convenient for those wanting to go light.

7. First Aid Essentials

Spenco Blister Kit
Courtesy of Pricegrabber
If you have room in your pack, it's always a good idea to take along some adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, and your pain reliever of choice. The most common problems you will have are scrapes and blisters. A small blister medic kit has exactly what you need.
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8. Something to Listen to

Apple iPod nano 4th Generation
© Pricegrabber
A walking buddy is often your best interactive audio device. But if you are alone or your buddy isn't a talker, you may want to carry some entertainment. You may have that all built into your cell phone, but if not, an MP3 player will do.
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9. Snacks

Trail Mix
Wendy Bumgardner © 2008
If I am walking for more than an hour, I like to have something handy to ward off hunger pangs. Trail mix is good as it replaces salt as well giving you a carbo boost. I like Clif bars because they are easy to chew, tasty, and don't crumble or melt.
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10. Lip Balm

Most people want some lip protection from the sun and wind, as provided by a lip balm with sunscreen. Often this has to be reapplied frequently as you drink or have a snack. I'm not a lip balm addict, but I have plenty of friends who would never leave home without it.
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